We may have just, for the first time ever, caught a momentous glimpse of a parallel universe bumping against our own.
Scientists say that signals from the furthest reaches of space suggest that the fabric of our universe is being disrupted by another universe. The discovery could provide proof of the multiverse theory, which says that there are many alternate universes.
Dr. Ranga-Ram Chary, a researcher at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, examined data from the cosmic microwave background gathered by the European Space Agency’s Planck Space Telescope. Within this glow left over from the moments after the Big Bang, he discovered a number of spots where the microwave light was far brighter than it should be. He claims that theses may be signals caused by the interaction between our universe and another one a few hundred thousand years after the Big Bang around 13.8 billion years ago.
The existence of multiple universes – a multiverse – has been considered scientifically plausible. If all these universes emerged from the same Big Bang, then they’re likely sitting together in a row, vibrating. According to the theory, if these universes touch one another, the resulting collision would leave some sort of evidence. According to New Scientist, which first reported the Dr. Chary’s research, this is akin to two bubbles bumping into each other. These so-called “bubble universes”, which are expanding within the multiverse, bumped into each other as they expanded after the Big Bang, leaving an imprint on each other’s outer surface.
Dr. Chary says the signals he has seen suggest the alternate universe may be very different from our own. He says it could have a ratio of subatomic particles called baryons and photons that is about ten times greater than what we see in our own universe. This would mean that the physics in this alternate universe could be quite different from our own.
Dr. Chary explained, “The fine tuning of parameters in the early universe required to reproduce our present day universe suggests that our universe may simply be a region within an eternally inflating super-region. Many other regions beyond our observable universe would exist with each such region governed by a different set of physical parameters than the ones we have measured for our universe.”
Dr. Chary came to his conclusions by using models of the cosmic microwave background and subtracting it from Planck’s pictures of the entire sky. He then removed signals from the stars, gas and dust. With all these removed, all that should have been visible in the images was noise. However, Dr. Chary reports that instead he found scattered patches that were 4,500 times brighter than they should have been. They are thought to come from an era in the universe’s evolution known as recombination, when electrons and protons first combined to create hydrogen. This era has a distinctive spectrum of color due to the limited number of atoms around, and hence has a unique appearance and anomalies can be easily spotted.
Dr. Chary wrote, “The implication is that collision of our Universe with an alternate Universe that has a higher baryon density is responsible for the enhanced recombination line signature.”
Other astronomers are very excited about his findings. Dr. Jens Chluba, an astronomer at the University of Cambridge, told New Scientist, “To explain the signals that Dr. Chary found with the cosmological recombination radiation, one needs a large enhancement in the number of (other particles) relative to photons. In the realm of alternative universes, this is entirely possible.”
The discovery of another universe would be earth-shattering. Excitingly, further study of this possible parallel universe may be possible very soon through NASA’s PIXIE, the Primordial Inflation Explorer whose instruments could more accurately observe and analyze Chary’s light signals and procure more data about cosmic inflation. Scientists at Goddard Space Flight Center are looking for funding for PIXIE, however that funding might not be awarded till the end of 2016.